Lonely Planet Writer

'Witch marks' at stately home to protect King James I

Knole stately home in Kent.
Knole stately home in Kent. Image by Brian Snelson / CC BY 2.0

Conservation work at an English stately home has confirmed that carvings by the fireplace were ‘witch marks’ intended to protect King James I. The marks were carved at Knole, a 600-year-old National Trust property in Kent in 1606, in anticipation of the king’s visit. The Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament, had occurred months beforehand, and James, the Protestant king of a nation in religious turmoil, was petrified of demons and witches – who he believed had tried to kill him by raising a storm at sea. Hundreds died in subsequent witch trials. Read more: the guardian.com